Overzealous Australia Police Mistake Mining Room for Illegal Drug Grow House

Overzealous Australia Police Mistake Mining Room for Illegal Drug Grow House

TL;DR: The international War on Drugs apparently intersected with the global phenomenon that is cryptocurrency mining. Rob Butvila‘s mining operations from his house triggered enough concern for South Australia law enforcement (SAPOL) to mistakenly break-in, damaging his property. CoinSpice interviewed Butvila, who claims SAPOL acted without a formal warrant, refused to apologize, and even claimed this wasn’t the first time something like such an incident has happened.   

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Overzealous Australia Police Mistake Mining Room for Grow House

Recently, an Australian man returned to his house, finding a note from local police. On it, Officer Davies of the Elizabeth division informed Rob Butvila his property had been compromised by officers who evidently suspected foul play. This particular suburb is part of Adelaide, South Australia, a city in existence since the early 1800s.

Published crime statistics by SAPOL appear to make no mention of drug-related violations at all, so it’s unclear how much of a perceived problem drugs and their manufacture are for SAPOL. The area went through something of a violent crime spree about 20 years ago, punching above its weight in assaults, gaining a reputation as Australia’s “crime capital.” South Australia as a whole, apparently, has continued to see an overall crime spike, and locals blame it on the popularity of a methamphetamine derivative, Ice. Crime, actually, appears to be lessening in Adelaide, according to regional reporting.

Overzealous Australia Police Mistake Mining Room for Illegal Drug Grow House
SAPOL notice

Butvila has not been accused of violent crime nor suspected of any involvement with Ice. In fact, what supposedly drew authorities’ attention was the result of his crypto mining rigs running. According to his social media post, SAPOL did not make “even so much as a phone call,” he wrote, reacting to damage. “I turn up to my property to prepare it for rent, to find you have kicked my door in, cut my locks and then you refuse to answer any questions and hang up on me!!!!! for what, because you thought a computer was a grow room or something???!”

War on Drugs, Eager Police, and Nosey Neighbor

He described the reputation of SAPOL in the area as “horrible,” and accused the agency of unprofessionalism, “leaving my property exposed and open now to the real thieves, and who knows what they have stolen as a consequence of your actions….” Butvila maintained, as the house was left exposed after SAPOL exited the scene.

Overzealous Australia Police Mistake Mining Room for Illegal Drug Grow House
SAPOL

CoinSpice’s Executive Editor Hayden Otto reached out to Butvila, asking about the nature of the incident and its context. He said his “house was vacant and being renovated and repaired for an incoming tenant with the miners operating there during the process.” It’s unclear as to how tech savvy SAPOL are with regard to mining equipment, but Butvila insists, “There was a fan in the open window, with some ducting to exhaust heat from the miner out the window. You could see the miner through the window if police only looked first.”

It appears to have been a perfect storm, a comedy of errors none too funny. “SAPOL have advised that a nosey, known trouble maker neighbour with a history of nuisance complaints made a Crimestoppers report,” Butvila explained, noticing “a fan in the window, solar panels on the roof, and a male coming and going at night (me).”

No Apology, Embellishments, Happens All the Time

That seems to be enough to have a house raided by police in South Australia, as, according to Butvila, “Officer Davies did not obtain a warrant for entry from a magistrate, [and] instead acted under a general warrant (something which they carry on them non specific to any address or person).” Police then “cut through my front gate, removed a fence panel on an inner gate, went through my shed, busted through my front door, and once they were inside, kicked in the locked inner door containing the miners, destroying the door, the locks and the door frame in the process,” he detailed.

Butvila is unsure if SAPOL molested his mining equipment, but did reveal a GPU has stopped working since the incident. Depending on market conditions, an out of commission miner can potentially cost losses in significant realized and future profits.

Overzealous Australia Police Mistake Mining Room for Illegal Drug Grow House

Butvila also noted Officer Davies did eventually phone him “to embellish, offered no apology, and suggested the reason that they kicked the door in instead of going through the open window (that they admitted to looking through) was because of the heat coming out, and that there were loose pavers. He also attempted to justify the extreme action by stating he didn’t want to cause damage to the window (laughable) and he didn’t want neighbours to see that my window was less than secure stopping short of suggesting me they did me a favour!”

The officer did mention SAPOL paying for damages, but refused to acknowledge what Butvila termed a privacy breach and misuse of power. Solar powers, fans, and entering and leaving a house at night are not illegal in Australia, the officer conceded. “They had to phone headquarters after finding the rig to confirm that cryptocurrency mining wasn’t illegal after they found it. One officer on the team had an inkling of what it was, the others had no idea,” Butvila said. He also stated the officer confirmed such mistakes happen “all the time. The law has gone too far in Australia, something has to change when a computer warrants a violation of one’s privacy and a destruction of property.”

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